We all love a good meme, almost anything funny on the internet is considered a bit of a meme these days, but memes in general have been evolving lately – in both their complexity and in their meaning. But what exactly is a meme?
Meme: an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
From infamous simple gifs and lolcats, to copypastas and advice animals, to the pepes, the rare pepes, and the trump pepes, memes have seen a lot of developments and changes over the last decade. What started as mere jokes on the internet have changed into something entirely other.
Memes have become powerful tools to convey emotions, and beliefs – take Christian Memes on facebook, a gigantic page that has millions of followers and gets thousands of likes on each post, unironically I may add.
These images range from teaching bible stories to simply reinforcing ideas of what it means to be true Christian, all in a relatable, recognizable, and ‘funny’ fashion (that is if you have the sense of humour of a boiled egg).
It’s not just Christian Memes – There are massive Athiest meme pages too, where snarky Atheists reinforce their beliefs and ideas with each other in a comedic fashion
Memes are so effective at getting beliefs, thoughts, and emotions across that most of us have entire conversations using nothing but them, so maybe it’s not surprising to see facebook groups revolve around them conveying more serious ideas.
We don’t just use memes with each other though – they’re being used ON US to get us to buy products or to sway us a certain way – one can’t deny that the act of dabbing on TV and memeing on twitter won Hillary Clinton plenty of millennial voters. My friend Luke wrote a post about Pepe the Frog and how he went from old meme to a symbol for neo-nationalism and declared a hate symbol by Hillary Clinton’s team, read about that here.
Memes are so effective at hijacking our mind because they’re familiar and they rely on us to share them – when a politician or an establishment uses emojis or posts a meme it’s a cheap way of relating to us on the net, and by neptune it works, it works so hard that we’re all willing to retweet it and share it on our own pages as if we’re all little unpaid marketers, passing the meme and all that comes with it to our own followers.
Ultimately memes are still used as they always have been – as a joke, a reaction, an opinion – what’s changed is their complexity and power. Memes have become more than just funnies; they are funnies with the ability to change how we think and act.